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Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees

Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees (photo)

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It’s been a tradition for over thirty years: the day before Hollywood celebrates its best at the Academy Awards a bunch of fanatical movie lovers gather to roast its worst at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Founded in 1981 by John Wilson, the Razzies, as they’re more commonly known, are dedicated to ‘giving the raspberry’ to the most shameful and soulless travesties the movie industry has foisted upon us in a given year.

Though their intentions to dishonor crummy movies are honorable, like any award-bestowing body, the Razzies don’t always get it right. Literally anybody with $35 bucks can join and vote, which means that hypothetically somebody in the movie business with a chip on his shoulder and some cash to burn could easily buy a couple thousand votes and screw with people he didn’t like (look for more of that story that in my soon-to-be-Razzie-nominated screenplay “Razzmatazz,” coming soon to a discount DVD bin near you).

More problematically, the awards tend to skew towards the inexplicably popular rather than the truly putrid. They went on this weird anti-Sylvester Stallone jag in the 1980s where every movie he made, good or bad, got nominated; “Rambo: First Blood Part II” even won the Worst Picture Razzie of 1985. Now “Rambo”‘s not exactly a masterpiece — okay, so in my book it is, but I know that’s the minority view — but the worst film of the year? That makes no sense, as does the fact that “Rocky IV” was also nominated for Worst Picture that year. That seems to have less to do with Stallone’s movies than some weird vendetta against him as a filmmaker. Did he kill the Razzies’ children or something? Some of their other picks are just head-scratchers: how in the world did “The Wicker Man” lose out to “Basic Instinct 2?” HOW DID IT LOSE? HOW DID IT LOSE? (That was my Nicolas Cage in “Wicker Man” impression by the way. It’s funny when I do it in person, I swear).

So the Razzies, like the films they skewer, aren’t perfect. So how did they do this year? Let’s examine the 2010 nominees for Worst Picture listed (in my opinion) from least worst to worstest worst.

02222011_eclipse1.jpgLeast Worst:
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”
Directed by David Slade

A classic Razzie popular-over-putrid pick. “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” like “Rambo,” will never make an AFI Top 100 list. But that doesn’t mean it was one of the worst movies of the year, or even of this series (saga, sorry; I forget sometimes). I suspect there isn’t a lot of overlap between “Twilight”‘s target audience and the Razzies’ voting block (if there was, after all, “Eclipse” wouldn’t make the cut). But again, that doesn’t necessarily place the movie on par with this year’s other Razzie nominees. Clearly this movie does something right — all the marketing in the world can’t sell $700 million dollars worth of tickets if the movie is unwatchable. Director David Slade wrang about as much suspense as can be had from a movie about a bunch of people sitting around in the woods waiting for something to happen (no, this is not a dig at “Harry Potter.” Okay, it totally is). And say what you will about stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner: they have chemistry. Like it or not, that’s what the audiences keeps coming back for.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? No. If neither of the previous, lesser “Twilight” movies were nominated — and they weren’t — then this one definitely didn’t deserve to be.

02222011_airbend1.jpgWeirdest Worst:
“The Last Airbender”

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Shyamalan is another Razzie “favorite” — his last three films have all been nominated for Worst Picture and if I had to guess, I’d say this year is his best chance yet of taking home the gold (spray-painted raspberry). His sins this time were legion: his white-washed casting of his adaptation of a racially diverse cartoon series inspired a new term — “racebending” — and the kids he chose for the parts, supposedly because they were the “best actors,” turned out to be charmless duds. Even worse, he allowed his film, which was shot with very shallow focus in mostly dark locations, to be post-converted to 3D which, in its best moments, just looked like a dimmer version of a 2D movie and, in its worst moments, was so murky it was basically incomprehensible. He also tried to cram a season’s worth of plot from the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series into a single movie, leading to some truly inexplicable storytelling choices, including massive chronological leaps bridged by clunky narration. AND YET! All of these things added up to what I felt was one of the more interesting failures of 2010. Only a director as talented and as powerful as Shyamalan could get away with releasing something this weird, with a story that explains everything except why we should care about anything that’s happening. And that can be fascinating to watch.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? In my opinion, no. I would watch “The Last Airbender” again. Not in 3D, mind you, but I would watch it again, even just to study it the way a med student watches a surgery: you get in there with the blood and the guts and you find out what went wrong and what you have to do to fix it.

02222011_vampsuck1.jpgUnfunniest Worst
“Vampires Suck”
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are no strangers to the Razzies either: two years ago they were nominated twice for Worst Feature for both “Meet the Spartans” and “Disaster Movie.” They make spoofs — I want to write “They make spoofs, sort of like ‘Airplane!’ or ‘The Naked Gun,'” but that would imply their films were funny like those movies, or that they even contain jokes like those movies, and they usually don’t. No, their brand of “comedy” is based solely on referencing the fact that things exist. They make movies the way McBain on “The Simpsons” does standup comedy: “Did you ever notice how men always leave the toilet seat up? [pause] That’s the joke.” In the case of their latest, “Vampires Suck,” the “joke” is that there are these movies called “Twilight” that teenagers really like in which all of the characters are sullen and pale and kind of dopey. That’s essentially it: Friedberg and Seltzer cast look-alikes, put them in locations that are look-alikes, and occasionally throw in a “Family Guy”-style tangential pop culture reference (“Hey look! People who sorta look like the cast of ‘Jersey Shore!’ In a movie set in the Pacific Northwest! Well they don’t belong there! Isn’t that a goof and a guffaw?”). Still, by the standards of Friedberg and Seltzer’s own filmography, “Vampires Suck” is a bit of an improvement: their lead actress, Jenn Proske, does an impressive job poking fun at Kristen Stewart’s ample acting tics, and there are a couple of genuinely funny jokes in this one. That doesn’t mean the movie’s worth watching, but there are signs this could be Friedberg and Seltzer’s last Razzie nomination for a while.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Yes. Maybe not worthy of a Razzie win, but definitely a nomination.

02222011_bounty1.jpgLaziest Worst
“The Bounty Hunter”
Directed by Andy Tennant

It is hard to imagine the depths of awfulness of “The Bounty Hunter” until you’ve experienced it yourself. From the outside, it looked like another glossy romantic comedy: nothing more, nothing less than a couple of beautiful stars and some crisp cinematography in a high concept story about a couple of bickering exes who fall back in love when he’s sent to bring her to justice after she skips out on her bail. But something went very, very wrong on the way to theaters here. Fundamentally, this sort of movie needs leads with chemistry and Butler and Aniston just don’t have it. They’re supposed to have been married and divorced but there’s no sense of a shared history or even basic familiarity between them; I’ve seen more passionate interpersonal relationships between coffee drinkers and their regular barista. Also: why can’t Gerard Butler just be Scottish in his movies? He’s a fine actor when he’s allowed to use his natural Scottish accent. When you make him pretend to be American, that’s exactly what he sounds like: a Scottish guy pretending to be American. Put these two mismatched stars in a plot that’s all clichés and coincidences and you get one enormous waste of time, a movie both about — and evidence of — the sad lengths Butler will go to for a paycheck.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Absolutely. This movie never aimed higher than forgettable entertainment and wound up doing so little of interest it became unforgettably terrible.

02222011_satc3.jpgWorstest Worst
“Sex and the City 2”
Directed by Michael Patrick King

In what has to be an intentional dig at the film, the official Razzie website lists “Sex and the City 2” as “Sex & The City #2” as if to suggest that this movie is, basically, a big pile of crap. I can’t disagree, and this isn’t a case like “Eclipse” of a guy bashing something that’s simply not intended for him: even longtime “SATC” fans like my wife were horrified by this movie (“Why would they do this?” was her quote, I believe). This second feature film continuation of the popular HBO series about four women and their New York City love lives begins with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda attending a wedding that my grandmother would have described as ungapatchka, Yiddish for lavish to the point of tackiness: there are swans and an all-male choir and Liza Minnelli performing the ceremony and a carefully choreographed rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” And, really, that wedding is the perfect metaphor for the whole movie, which is ungapatchka to the extreme — garish, petty, and shallow. I recognize there’s an element of fantasy in the fact that none of the four leads ever wear an article of clothing for more than a single scene (somehow they even change clothes in the middle of a camel ride through the desert), but that fantasy must be grounded in some sort of concern for these characters, concern which I lost right around the time the women began complaining how hard it is to be a mother while boozing it up at the most luxurious hotel in the world while their nannies watch their kids for them.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Oh God, yes. And if it wins, I hope the Razzie Award is presented to the film in a knockoff Gucci bag for the occasion.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.